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What Not To Worry About #44

What Not To Worry About #44

Happy Tuesday pals!! It’s been a chilly few days here in Belfast with the snow arriving and characteristically playing havoc with everyone’s lives. I secretly love how people suddenly lose the ability to talk about anything other than the snow and each conversation includes a rotation of the following:

“Did you get snow where you are?” – My Mum

“Mind those roads” – My Dad

“Traffic was mental this morning!” – My colleagues

“Thon road is like an ice rink!” – My country friends

“It’s fairly coming down out there” – My boyfriend

“It gives it to snow all night!” – My little sister

“Ye daren’t leave the house if this carries on…” – Me

Everyone I know becomes an expert meteorologist overnight that can judge the severity of the snow based on the shade of white the clouds turn. While this can be a little irritating (especially when the drama can reach apocalyptic heights – it has snowed before people!), the sense of excitement can be contagious and can encourage festive magic to spread across to even the Scroogiest of Scrooges. On Friday it felt perfectly acceptable to blast Christmas music all day long (the office was practically empty anyway!) as we spent most of the day with our noses pressed up against the windows gazing up at the torrent of snowflakes.

On Saturday we woke up to a blanket of white and I was practically giddy as we drove down to Murlough Bay to walk along a snowy beach. The air was icy but it felt wonderful to walk through the dunes with our coats wrapped up to our chins, spying a few snowmen along the way before reaching the sand. We walked along the waterline, taking pictures of the beach and the snow-capped Mourne mountains towering above us while we still had sensation in our fingers. Feeling thoroughly frozen, we sought refuge in Mourne Seafood Bar in Dundrum to warm our toes and our bellies. We sat beside the log burner which thawed us out in no time and I ordered seafood chowder which, although advertised as a starter, stuffed me to the brim along with the pint of Guinness I washed it down with.

I begged Andrew to take us the scenic route through the mountains to Armagh where we were headed to catch up with family. He eventually relented under the agreement that I would pay for any damage if he was to slide right off the mountain (another snow drama queen). It was worth the risk because it was a winter wonderland up there. Spelga Dam looked like something from a Christmas card with the evergreens dusted with snow alongside the water which was turning gold as the sun set over the mountain. Who knew Ireland could resemble a Nordic paradise?

On Sunday there was more snow and more pictures and more delight from me as I watched the sunrise from the country lane by Andrew’s parents’ house (who are always so dumbfounded by my glee at the scenic views they are spoiled with). After a walk with friends, I headed to Downpatrick for an afternoon of pure magic. I have spoken about Mel in the blog before and the Assembly Gatherings she organises for the creative women who are craving connections with other like-minded souls. I attended my first Gathering back in February and it filled me up with so much inspiration I felt capable of just about anything.

This Gathering was for the festive season and was focused on finding time for ourselves before the whirlwind of Christmas consumes our lives completely. We were told to gather in the hills outside of Downpatrick at Laura Bayley’s farmstead where the roads were just a little bit dicey in my new wee Polo! After a white-knuckled drive I arrived when everyone was just sitting down to dine in Laura’s stone barn that had been beautifully styled by Grace & Saviour (an Instagrammer’s dream!). We ate the most delicious organic food cooked by Laura while I forged connections with the new faces around me (and put faces to Instagram handles!).

After being stuffed with amazing food, we shuffled in to another room in the barn where we learned about organic chocolate from the lovely women of Nearnógs. We learned how to identify tastes within chocolate and were even given some truffle balls to take home with us which we rolled in our favourite flavouring – yum!

Having been well educated in deliciousness, we braved the bitter cold to go out to the nearby wood to forage for materials to make our own wreaths – you know I love to make a wreath! Janice from Gathered Threads showed us the best pieces to search for while the sky above us turned a crimson pink and the light started to fade. We had our very own workshop to work in after the sun went down, turning a bunch of ferns and evergreens in to something beautiful (if a little rustic in my case!).

As the temperature plummeted we gathered around the firepit and drank hot chocolate to keep warm. There was a gentle murmur of shared gratitude amongst the group as if we all felt the weight of such a golden afternoon and weren’t quite ready to let it go. Eventually we had to head on home to save us losing toes and fingers but I am still feeling the weight of that afternoon and have been carrying it around with me to keep me going during this crazy season.

The wreath is hanging above the fireplace too 🙂

And here’s a few worries I am letting go of this week:

Getting frustrated at Andrew when he is sick – I have zero sympathy when it comes to colds and flus but it turns out some guy actually went out and conducted a study to actually prove that men suffer worse than women when they have flus! I’m still dubious but maybe I should be a little kinder when it comes to sickness, just in case.

Having it all figured out – there is so much pressure to know exactly where you are meant to be going and what you’re meant to be doing but in reality a lot of us are winging it most of the time. What’s encouraging is to know that even some of our personal idols feel the exact same which was why I just loved reading this article. Joanna Goddard is someone who I have looked up to since I started reading her blog Cup of Jo a couple of years ago and it was great to know she’s as personable in real life as she is through her words.

Blue Planet – the series finished last week and it ended with a pretty ominous message that the plastic crisis is severely affecting the world’s oceans and all that live there. This is a very real problem that affects all of us but we can do something, even little things to help improve the future of the world’s oceans. Find a few tips here if you want to find out how you can help too.

Not reading enough books by women – I have read a lot more books written by men than women; not because I prefer the words of male authors but because it is so much easier for a male to be published than female. John Boyne wrote a great article on why he thinks women are better writers than men and how often he encounters men who write for the prizes rather than for the connection with the reader.

Not staying in a tree house – sometimes you just want to run away and live in a treehouse and live up high above the ground. Or even just pay a load of money to stay in a fancy adult version! Check this piece out for some serious treehouse-envy.

Have a great week! 

What Not To Worry About #15

What Not To Worry About #15

Hello fellow Monday people! How’s the heads? Are we starting off positive or are we stumbling wildly in to the week wondering where the weekend went? I’m planning on starting the week off with a fresh head after a slow weekend filled with family, friends and lots of food. Here’s hoping I can carry it through to the end of the week!

 

The main reason why I feel a little lighter this Monday is because I was able to be a part of a pretty special event last week that I am still beaming from. The Assembly Gathering is an inclusive community workshop founded by Mel Wiggins which encourages those seeking an environment in which they can inspire and be inspired by other creative women. I have spoken about my tenious relationship with this side of myself in a previous post as I have struggled to acknowledge that I am, and enjoy being, a creative person.

 

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Having seen posts about the first event in autumn and reading about how wonderful those who attended came away feeling, I promised myself I would jump at the chance if there was another. You can imagine then how delighted I was when I saw tickets released for the winter gathering a few weeks ago and of course I wasted no time in registering. I went on my own and didn’t feel an ounce of nervousness about that since the very reason I was going was because I was doing something just for me. Putting myself in the rare position of being ‘me’ in a crowd of unknown people wasn’t so terrifying when I knew how supportive the environment would be.

 

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The gathering was held in the Boundary Brewery, a coop based in East Belfast and when I entered the room I was blown away by how pretty a brewery could be! Grace & Saviour had transformed the place in to an ethereal wonderland, an Instagrammers dream! We were taken under Mel’s wing and split in to 2 groups; one group learning the wonder of natural dyeing with Colour & Cloth and the other learn about the brewing process by Sheena from Boundary along with a few sneaky tasters.

 

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Christine from Colour & Cloth provided us with our silk scarves and we started off learning about all the amazing natural products that can be used to dye materials which as it turns out is an exhaustive list. I chose to use teabags for mine and folded the silk using pegs and elastic band to create psychadelic patterns (I hadn’t a notion what I was doing really but sort of hoped for the best). The colour came out beautifully, almost a grey-gold and I used it as a table runner for yesterday’s Sunday lunch!

 

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After we tasted some pretty delicious beer, we were spoiled with a spread laid out by Little Pink Kitchen. The cutlery alone had me sold but the food was outstanding from start to finish. And the conversation that was had around this feast was something that will stay with me for quite some time. We were given some questions that were in a wee bowl in the table to help guide the conversation but to be honest the discussions were already so open and honest that we didn’t really need the help. We spoke of what we felt we were lacking or allowed to hold us back, what we dreamt of doing and what our creative fears were. Incredible stuff.

 

Obviously I came away rejuvenated and full of plans. To connect with like-minded people is such a joy and it made me realise how I needed more of this. This time of year is where I can feel a little demotivated and unsure of myself and now I feel like I know more than ever what I want to be doing. I am so incredibly grateful to the gathering for getting me to this place.

 

And so I shall continue on with my usual ‘What Not To Worry About’ post to let you know the little worries I am shedding this week…

 

Unwise Outfit Choices

This time of year is a little cruel for fashion because I begin to get restless with being covered in endless layers. After Lisbon I got a taste for skirts and light clothing again and forgot myself when I came home. I quickly realised that skirt season is definitely another wee while away and so I will have to suck it up and make do with panicking every Sunday night to make sure I have enough tights to get me through the week.

 

Rainy Weekends

What a dull and wet weekend we had! Save for a sliver of sunlight on Sunday afternoon there seemed to be no hope of a bright weekend. It’s beginning to get a little tiresome but it’s weekends like this that encourage slow paced activities which felt exactly right for me this weekend. On Saturday we pottered about the palm house in Botanic Gardens and yesterday we had family over for a Sunday Roast. Nothing to complain about here.

 

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Nervous Chat

After the gathering I realised I am not so great at striking up conversation. I usually enter with a joke and I am quickly relieved when the other person doesn’t slither away in disgust. Why do we do this to ourselves? I have to keep reminding myself that in those situations the other person is more than likely thinking the same thing and so I shouldn’t be too embarrassed. And my jokes are OK sometimes!

 

Weak Handshakes

This can give me the heebie jeebies especially in a professional scenario. Weak handshakes are just weird. Stay firm people!

 

My Stationery Habit

I found my new favourite shop on Saturday.  is a lovely place on the Lisburn Road and it’s chocked full of beatiful designs. I wanted everything but I settled for a gorgeous notebook which seems to be the only thing I come away when I find my new favourite shop. I can’t help myself!

 

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Wishing you all a great week!!

 

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